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Cosmological question, for anyone who wants to take a stab at it

What caused the Big Bang?

I'm not a scientist, but this question has always fascinated me, because I'm a strong believer in causality, and wondering if causality has its limits in this question.
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Mike Erman's profile photoEli Fennell's profile photoBrian Hartman's profile photoRaymond Dickey's profile photo
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In the beginning there was the Word; not a Bing Bang - Scientists are as right as those who swore the planet was flat not too long ago - The answer is LIFE, not an "accident", one would think that anyone who looked inside oneself would instinctively know that - neither would it be necessary to blame God; there, that's my stab at it :P
 
hmmm, I believe there is an inherent supposition that since the universe in its current observable state shows an outward expansion that all matter in the universe must have as some point been stationary in a central point. The supposition also states that since there is a large amount of kinetic energy associated with the matter and its motion that there must have been some unfathomably large explosion to cause it. Other parts of that supposition are failing, as the part that says the matter should be slowing down, not speeding up. As we learn how to make more observations we are learning more about the universe and its quirks like dark matter and dark energy, etc. The reality is that +Gaston Hidalgo-Campusano 's statement could be as accurate or inaccurate as any other....we don't like to say we don't know, but we don't. A lot of smart people have a lot of theories, but a lot of them have been proven incorrect. The more we learn, the more we realize we don't know. We teach some of these suppositions as fact, but they may not be, and science proves this just about every day. I've never heard a compelling explanation for it. I suppose that most would believe that if all the matter were in one place then it would have destabilized much like the nucleus of an unstable isotope destabilizes and splits and that the split would have caused the matter to be finely fragmented and pushed outward at near the speed of light, eventually slowing, collecting, and developing into the universe we see today. But I really don't know anything about it...and I am sure someone will come along and correct all this...
 
I actually support the alternative scientific view that there was no "Big Bang" as we usually understand the term. Not the prevailing view, but I find the evidence compelling, especially in light of the fact that Big Bang theory was invented by a Catholic monk to reconcile science with the Book of Genesis. Yes, this is true, it was the Intelligent Design of its day.

There's an old joke about Big Bang theory: "In the beginning there was nothing... which suddenly exploded."
 
Thanks for your commments. :)

+Eli Fennell What's the alternative theory?

+Mike Erman Any idea where the initial matter from the Big Bang came from?

What I've heard and read seems to indicate that M-Theory is one current candidate. As I understand it, that says that the Big Bang was created by the collision of two "branes" in 11-dimensional space.

Part 10: M-theory
 
I've heard the membrane theory briefly. I don't have any informed opinions of how the universe began at this time. I like to consider each new theory as though it were the first one. I'm just not sure any of them are any good...and I get suspicious of anything that involves more than the standard dimensions. I also don't believe in Time, but rather like to express it as Where.
 
+Eli Fennell The article you pointed to is interesting, but I'm suspicious of the author. He associated himself with the "Face on Mars", which turned out to be an anomaly of lighting of that photograph.
 
+Brian Hartman That's debatable, and I don't buy that the face is natural, nor have many bright minds like Arthur C. Clarke or Richard Hoagland.
 
Did you ever see this?...

"Former National Aeronautics and Space Administration Data and Photo Control Department manager, Ken Johnston, who worked for the space agency's Lunar Receiving Laboratory during the Apollo missions has been fired for telling the truth.

Johnston asserts NASA knows astronauts discovered ancient alien cities and the remains of amazingly advanced machinery on the Moon. Some of the technology can manipulate gravity.

He says the agency ordered a cover-up and forced him to participate in it."

That was late last year. Here's a link (no mainstream media sources would cover it even though Ken Johnston was frequently cited in the media before this because, well, he was in charge of their photo control department): http://goo.gl/t5WnV
 
More to the point... if NASA did find alien technology, does anyone really think they'd tell us? Or, rather... tell all of our enemies? Did Russia and the U.S. really spend all that money for all those years competing for the right to plant a flag on a barren rock? What about the reanalysis of the Viking soil samples that suggests a 99% chance it did detect life? Did they really just accidentally misinterpret the results? You don't need to be crazy to believe governments would lie about finding evidence of advanced technology, in fact it's downright crazy to think they would tell us, tell everyone in fact including all our worst enemies.
 
Brian, we can't really extrapolate from the observed laws of physics beyond a certain point in the very early universe -- say, when the universe was about 10^-42 sec old. Since then we have a pretty good idea what happened. So what caused the universe? Hawking and his peers have some plausible ideas that are beyond our present (perhaps ever) ablility to test.
 
Mike, using general relativity to examine the data on the universe's expansion we do trace it back to a single point -- but before we reach that 'point', quantum mechanics comes into play and messes up our usual ideas of causality. IIRC, current theory does not show a point as the 'initial boundary'. But as I said, it's a bit iffy to extrapolate back to such a small scale (beyond the Plank length).
 
Ray: If they aren't testable ideas, how are they any better than Creationism? We know the ideas work within the confines of a computer, but that's about it. And as I understand it (which I may not, of course), Hawking's idea is that the matter that caused the Big Bang arose ex nihlo, which really isn't helpful, if we want to maintain causality. In no other area of human endeavor has stuff just appeared out of nowhere. Why should the universe get a free pass?
 
They are extrapolations from physical theories that do fit the observable data. But the problem is that extrapolations are not always valid and need to be tested before they can be considered valid 'theories'.
 
There really isn't that big a mystery as to where the matter came from, since the net energy of the universe is zero (if one counts its potential energy). It's like when virtual particles form and disappear, as they do all the time. The questions of 'why' and 'how' of the early universe are more interesting, although there is no definite answer yet (if ever).
 
Ray: I get that matter comes from energy, and energy from matter (E=mc2) but the initial energy and initial matter both had to come from somewhere, didn't they? At some point, didn't there have to be zero of both?
 
Basically all the positive energy (including matter) is exactly balanced by the negative gravitational energy of the universe. The net is zero.
 
+Brian Hartman Putting aside the "is NASA lying, is the Face on Mars artificial or natural", etc..., which was a side-point having nothing to do with your question... I have to agree with you that this is the one big area where scientists are flat-out "cheating" by their own standards and resorting to a quasi-religious "it just is" explanation. If scientists can, as they often do, condemn Creationists for saying that God just always existed and came from nowhere, many of them reckon they can do the same... but in the end they both resort to a question without an answer, a question they claim needs no answer.

Call it a strange source, but I think the Hermetic Philosophers had it right... there must be a fundamental substrate of reality that has always, and will always, exist. However, that substrate cannot be any one thing in and of itself, but rather a non-differentiated potential matrix for everything else. That still doesn't explain the "why" of that substrate always "existing", per se, but it has the benefit of not claiming that the subtrate is a particular "thing" or "entity" or in any literal sense even "exists", that it is merely a potential, with no identity or form of its own, a thing that is no where, no when, and no thing, yet having some internal activity that manifests things and entities, wheres and whens, and into which things and entities and wheres and whens must ultimately resolve at the end of their "existence".

In the end, I guess, humans are about as capable to the task of unraveling the mystery of where and what everything came from as an ant or a microbe or, frankly, an inanimate grain of sand in the desert. Still, it should humble scientists that they can give no better answer, when it comes right down to it, than any religion can.
 
Eli, you actually don't think science explains things better than religion does? Geez.
 
On that point, name one thing that religion has ever explained that wasn't obvious and which science or another rational discipline later showed to be true.
 
+Raymond Dickey Not what I said. What I said was that, on this one point (how did everything begin, in the absolute sense, the "first beginning"), they each resort to "it just always existed" or "it came into being from nothingness", in no case offering anything in terms of a causal explanation.
 
Ray: Doesn't that explanation still presume a "something", rather than a "nothing"?

From the article: "Perhaps many quantum fluctuations occurred before the birth of our universe. Most of them quickly disappeared."

In order to have quantum fluctuations, don't you have to have something fluctuation, and something for them to fluctuate in?

+Eli Fennell I think I agree with you that there doesn't seem to be a satisfactory answer. I think it's beyond the realm of empiricism, because we obviously can't study what, if anything, there was "before" the universe. (And just claiming our universe came from another universe is begging the question.)
 
+Brian Hartman Forget the chicken and the egg conundrum, this is the conundrum of the egg trying to fathom the chicken. It's beyond us, for now at least. I like to call myself an "Ultra Skeptic"... meaning I'm both skeptical of the extrordinary claims, and the "ordinary" ones. Claiming we knew where the universe came from, or how old it is, or how big it is, when we can't even predict the weather beyond the next few weeks with any accuracy, strike me as pretty extraordinary, more extraordinary than the claims of Paranormal Researchers (of which I'm skeptical, but not entirely dismissive).
 
I think you always have to specify "the observable universe", simply because there could be a whole lot of the universe whose light hasn't reached us yet, because it's too far away..

That's just a guess, though.
 
Brian, if inflation theory is correct, then there is a helluvalot of universe that is unobservable.
 
As to there having to be 'something' to start with: virtual particles pop up out of 'nothing' all the time (this is demonstrable, BTW), but in our universe there is always at least space-time there. What might apply in the absence of space-time is something for the theoretical physicists to work on. But I like the adage, 'As far as we know, nothing is not stable.'
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